On Jade Castro’s Endo (2007)

Endo is the story of Leo and Tanya, both contractual workers. Leo, abandoned by his mother, deprived of the chance to finish his studies, and practically the breadwinner of their family, is someone who is tired of dreaming. From a structuralist-functionalist perspective, we can say that he is an example of someone who has succumbed to the culture of poverty. Having been frustrated again and again, he has lost faith that dreams can overcome adverse circumstances. He seems resigned to, albeit resentful of, his situation. He drifts from job to job, without security, without plans for the future, without lasting relationships, even. Each “endo” or “end of contract” is a cause for heartbreak and uncertainties about where to go, how to survive. Tanya, on the other hand, is a person of many dreams, and is a manifestation of how social stratification can motivate people. Despite adverse circumstances and lack of opportunities, she continues to strive for a better life. However, she is not some romantic girl whose head is always lost in rosy clouds; her dreams are not only grounded in reality—she makes concrete plans for her future and strives to achieve her goals. Her pleasantly determined i-know-what-i-want-and-i-will-try-to-get-it attitude is evident in her courtship with Leo. It is she who calls the shots and directs the courtship, not the guy. Their relationship at first sails smoothly—they are obviously very in love with each other, and are sympathetic of each other’s situation. However, conflict arises because Leo cannot move forward with Tanya. He is weighed down by a past love, family troubles, and most of all, his refusal to pursue any dreams beyond working for tomorrow’s meal. He is already resigned to poverty. Tanya encourages him to work towards a future, a future where they can be together. However, his fear of more uncertainty leads him to abandon Tanya and the pressures that come with her, and shrink back into his familiar albeit equally insecure, comfort zone. Tanya, besieged by troubles (she thinks she’s pregnant, she’s worried about Leo, she’s preparing to work abroad) and tired and exasperated of Leo, finally gives up her relationship with him. He tries to get her back, but it is too late.

I don’t usually watch romantic movies (except for romantic comedies) because so many of them are cheesy, unbelievable, and trite. Rich boy meets poor girl and they fall in love, or somebody cheats on somebody else, or the love is “not meant to be” and there would be lots of crying—those stories. However, I rather like Endo. One, because it presents us with a relevant love story, one in which the conflicts are given gravity because they are compounded by social problems. In their story, we see how social forces influence that which we usually think is personal: falling in love. Their courtship is determined by their circumstances: they pass each other written notes because they don’t have cellphones or load, they listen together to music from a borrowed CD player because they can’t afford an iPod, they are brought together and separated by poverty. Relationships are affected by social stratification and class conflict: Leo and a former girlfriend broke up because he was not rich enough for her. Although the girl was more or less in the same class as Leo, she wanted to snag a richer man. Because the conflicts of love as depicted in this movie are not purely personal, private, their story is able to embody the story of millions of others, millions of people who are caught in the web of poverty and adverse circumstances. Not only can more people relate to the characters, but the plot is also rendered believable. Two, the characters are fleshed out. We understand why they act the way they do, how they came to believe what they believe. Three, the actors did their characters justice. I especially liked the performance of Ina Feleo (who played Tanya). The way she conveyed emotion was so real it was almost palpable. Her smiles, her tears, her anger—it was all beautiful. Most of all, I like Endo because it made me feel for the characters. When Leo kneeled before Tanya, imploring her to give him a second chance, when Tanya let him go, saying “Mahal mo lang ako kasi aalis na ako eh,” and shut the gate in his face, I wanted to cry with them (instead of cringing and thinking, “how corny,” as I typically would). With its poignancy and relevance, Endo is definitely worth watching.

 

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